BY TRACY WRIGHT
Birthdays are milestone celebrations for parents and eventually become very special for children as well. As opposed to holidays like Christmas and Easter, birthdays are a child’s one very special day. For children born in spring or early fall, birthdays are singled out and parties at a local skating rink or at school make that child feel so special on their day.
However, many children’s birthdays are born on or around the holiday time, specifically Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s, making it difficult for parents to keep their children’s birthdays seem special amidst the holiday hoopla. Children may end up getting “duo gifts” from friends and family, or worse, people are too busy to attend separate birthday celebrations.
But there are things parents can do to help keep their child feel special on their birthday even though it is such a busy time of year. Small strategies can go a long way. For Jaime Swanson, mother of four whose two sons were born around Christmas, it has always been important for her to not have them overlooked at the holidays.
“My oldest boy is 7 and was born December 28th and then our third who is now 5 was born on December 21st. It is a crazy week in our home as we have a birthday, then Christmas, then another birthday,” Swanson said. “We do family parties for each of them which makes for a long week, but I want them to be celebrated. “To keep things straight we have planned a themed party for them and we tend to give them gifts along those lines for their actual birthdays. Then we avoided that for their actual Christmas gifts. It is very important to me to allow my boys to be celebrated on their birthdays and not let the holidays be overlooked.”
Local mom Brittany Hensley’s daughter turns six on January 2nd of 2019 and she always makes a special effort to make sure her daughter’s day is special. In addition to celebrating on the 2nd, Hensley does what many others do—celebrate a half birthday in July.
“On my daughter’s birthday, I make sure there are special decorations out and she gets to pick where we are going to dinner, which helps make her day special,” Hensley said. “We also always do something small and special for her half birthday in July. We get a cupcake, sing happy half birthday, and get her one special gift.”
Another key tip from many parents is to ensure that birthday decorations and wrapping paper are used and not use Christmas décor to celebrate birthdays during the holiday. Local mom Christine Loftus’ birthday is December 29th and her daughter Aubrey’s is January 3. She recalls that when she was growing up, her parents made sure that all Christmas decorations were put away before her birthday. Loftus always received gifts wrapped in birthday wrapping—a tradition she has kept for her daughter.
Other options to try to focus around the birthday and not the holiday are to ban holiday music around their child’s birthday, ensure that photos are taken around birthday decorations (lots of balloons can compete with holiday lights and tree) and purchase or make a beautiful and colorful birthday cake or dessert that embraces the birthday theme.
On the flip side, despite the distractions, other parents also choose to see the positive in having their children’s birthdays during the holidays.
“Our daughter was born on December 30th. We love that she’ll never have school on her birthday. Since many of her friends are traveling during this week, we do a day trip with just our family on her big day,” said local mom Mary C. Jordan. “We’ve been fortunate to have lots of great weather and almost always make it to the beach. Even if it’s not ‘beach weather’ the kids love to play in the sand, fly kites, and have ice cream. After all, who but a Florida kid can spend their winter birthday at the beach every year?”